…or how companies can benefit from customers sharing their positive brand experiences on social networks.

Market Research has now reached a point where it’s too much about anonymous respondents, even though in this day in age, people tend to build their Social Media reputation based on the product reviews they write and talk about.

This is why I believe 2012 will have to bring a huge change, because companies will start to realize the dormant power of social media influence on brands. Satisfaction SharingSatShareif I may.

Let’s say you analyze a Market Research report where 50% of your 1.000 respondents have given positive reviews. In a conventional situation, these 500 people would end up in a spreadsheet and clearly, important decisions would be taken based on this. But if you took an innovative approach to this figure and gave these 500 people the opportunity to share their satisfaction on social networks, then you’d stand a good chance of reaching about 50.000 people instantly, considering at least 100 of them would share the info to 500 friends (on average)…

Why do it?

The impact of this kind of approach is huge, for more than one reason: first of all, customer reviews are an increasingly trustworthy source of information (several studies have shown that people have bought products after being influenced by other people’s reviews) and second, the cost of reaching 50.000 on traditional channels would be much higher. Let alone the fact that you can grasp the importance of the whole number, the importance of every customer and the huge impact of customer satisfaction in general.

Suddenly, you understand which way the balance would shift if you were to compare the cost of reaching 50.000 people (or more, depending on your Market Research study) versus simply giving the option to the positive respondents to share their experience on the social networks.

And if Web 3.0 and 4.0 are all about integrating the “software shell” that surrounds us with our thoughts, desires and needs, then it’s only logical in 2012 we will not only start to better understand the true impact of Social Media on our brands, but we will also start to act according to our findings.

For example, as shown here, recent research has revealed that while the overall customer perception of a brand is influenced by social channels reviews, companies are not only failing to recognize (even though most of them have a social presence on Facebook or Twitter), but also failing to respond (very few of them consider social media as a high priority channel of interaction with the customers – data since end of Nov 2011).

While this happens, of course, customers continue to hugely influence the brands they use on Social Networks, which generates from companies a sort of strategy response known as Social CRM, when in fact, what most of them do is sort of a Social Media Management of their brands – as Brian Solis explains here.

We all know that reaching unsatisfied customers and solving their problems will turn them into ambassadors for the respective brand. But now we’re also turning our attention to the satisfied clients involved in the Social Enterprise.

This is the point where the line between B2B and B2C gets thinner and thinner. Whether I am reviewing and recommending a shampoo I’m using or a Law Firm that just got me out of trouble, I am both a B2B and a B2C customer at the same time. And more than this, I am also part of these product’s B2N (business 2 network) approach.

This is, in fact, the point where companies understand that the power now belongs to the social people. And as a result, the Market Research industry might just become truly Social.